The Empowered (and Imperiled) Health Care Consumer in the Age of Internet Medicine

January 29, 2008

This new report by Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, raises a strong alarm for consumers and health care websites on the lack of attention to detail by consumers. The report labels these consumers “Insta-Americans” with short attention spans and poor attention to the source of the medical information they are reading.

In one sense, the web has encouraged quick scanning of information which may be fine if you are scanning on eBay or a social networking site. But when it comes to life and death or even health and wellness, different rules should apply.
The 34 page report details four specific case studies of mis-information: Crestor, Avandia, teen suicide and SSRIs and autism and vaccines. The bottom line is that through websites promoting drugs, anti-phamacuetical activist, class-action or litigation sites and spam blogs, misinformation gains a hold which is difficult to counter.

The conclusion is worth noting: “This practice of ?do-it-yourself online medical diagnosis can help arm patients and healthcare consumers with valuable research. But if this research is gathered in a vacuum, without the benefit of input from a credible physician, or certification of the information from an official organization….”

This valuable report needs to produce consumer education beyond “buyer beware” to “buyer, read more carefully.”

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